Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata preaches during worship at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
By Greg Nelson, Director of Communications for the Oregon Idaho Annual Conference
In his sermon to the General Conference on Thursday, April 16, Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata asked the question, “Can this love heal our United Methodist Church?” The sermon, based on Mark 3:7-12 explored the healing love of Christ. The exploration looked at how, while Christ was known for his physical healing, it is the ability of Christ’s love to heal a person’s soul that can have a profound impact on individuals and the church as a whole. LISTEN to the Audio.
Hoshibata’s sermon pointed out a parallel for The United Methodist Church’s founder, John Wesley. Wesley was deeply concerned with physical health; even to the point of writing the text Primitive Physick, or An Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases in 1747. But Hoshibata identifies that Wesley cared deeply about the health of a person’s soul and encouraged the question “How is it with your soul?” at his class meetings.
For Hoshibata, this healing of soul, by Christ’s love, can affect our denomination. He identifies that amidst the challenges and conflicts in the church, Christ’s healing love is available as a privilege to all.
Hoshibata shared that for him a key point of the sermon was that, “WE need to determine to be part of God’s healing love.” In the sermon text he makes this point saying, “We may say that we are people of deep faith, but if we do not live out that faith by reaching out to everyone in Christ’s love, then we are, in the words of I Corinthians, nothing but a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
Hoshibata concluded the sermon by challenging the delegates and visitors to, “Imagine a church for all God’s children, intentionally opening its heart, mind, and doors to everyone – everyone! Where disciples of Jesus Christ proclaim and practice acceptance of all – of all others – without regard for who they are, what they look like, or whom they love. That’s a church… That’s a church… That’s a church that is healed of mistrust and fear.”
After expanding on a vision of a church that reaches out to communities, the hungry, the homeless, and the marginalized, he concluded that the church he sees is a church, “that knows that love heals.”
As the service concluded, other Bishops joined Hoshibata at the front of the room and invited individuals to come forward and have individual prayer for healing and anointing with a healing balm. The balm, provided on all delegate tables was a gift from the organization, Just Peace.
This was Hoshibata’s first opportunity to address the entire General Conference since his election to the Western Jurisdiction in 2004. Since election he has served the Portland Episcopal area and the Oregon-Idaho conference.
Video of Bishop Hoshibata’s sermon begins at 1:34:12.